AG Ellison sues Fleet Farm stores for alleged involvement in gun trafficking

(ABC 6 News) – Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison filed a lawsuit on Wednesday against Fleet Farm stores for what he alleges negligently aided and abetted straw purchasers contributing to gun trafficking in Minnesota.

Ellison said the complaint charges Fleet Farm with negligence, negligent entrustment, aiding and abetting, and public nuisance.

Ellison claims that Fleet Farm stores repeatedly sold firearms to straw purchasers – people who illegally purchase guns for others who cannot legally purchase guns themselves. He alleges that Fleet Farm ignored red flags and warning signs that certain buyers were straw purchasers and sold guns to these buyers anyway.

Ellison states that Fleet Farm sold at least 37 firearms, 24 within four months to one straw purchaser, and 13 in one year to another.

At least 7 guns from one straw purchaser have been linked to incidents of crime or suspected crime, he said.

The lawsuit mentions specific guns used in a Saint Paul bar shooting in October 2021, alleging Fleet Farm sold guns to suspected straw-purchaser Jerome Horton, Jr. The shooting ended with the death of a 27-year-old man, and injuries to 14 bystanders.

Ellison says another gun Fleet Farm allegedly sold to Horton Jr. was found by a 6-year-old boy in front of his family’s home in September 2021, where the gun was likely discarded by suspects fleeing police in another shooting incident.

Ellison said by filing the lawsuit he is asking the court to impose restrictions on firearm sales, as well as more vigorous training for Fleet Farm employees.

“I want to say that gun dealers and retailers have an obligation to state and federal law that they
must meet,” Ellison said. “This includes stopping straw purchasing.”

“Fleet Farm had a duty under the law to spot and stop this behavior,” he said. “Nevertheless, Mills Fleet Farm continued to engage in straw purchase transactions even though they knew, or should have known, that these customers were not making legitimate purchases for themselves and were likely to resell them illegally. In doing so, Fleet Farm has profited from selling firearms to sham purchasers who then transferred these firearms to criminals or other dangerous persons.”

“When we purchase guns, we have an obligation not to give or resell them to people who legally cannot have them,” Ellison said. “This includes people convicted of felonies, people who have a history of perpetuating domestic violence, and people who are deemed not mentally fit to be in possession of a weapon.”

For more information on the lawsuit, CLICK HERE.